Catching UP

We sure have had lots going on here lately.  We just finished up LoveLoud through our church.  It’s a church-wide Mission Project.  Our class went a few different directions, and we were able to be a little part of all three projects.  We’ve been having church out at a local mobile home park for about 4 months on Wednesday nights.  It went very well, and we aren’t sure what should happen next.  Another couple led a project at a boys and girls home in Jasper, Ga…lots of yard work and landscaping.  And a handful of other families helped with a home our church owns and opens up to people, particularly missionaries.  We had a special interest in this project since some of our dear friends were coming to stay there for about five months.  I need to work on getting some before and after pictures…the end result of the new bathrooms was amazing.  Here’s what our kids looked like after such a full week or two:

We’ve spent a lot of time at home, too.  School seems to be going well.  We are doing math, english, writing, reading, phonics, history, and spelling….will start Science after the new year.  I’d also like to start some geography that I recently  read about, but I just haven’t yet.  We usually go for a walk a few times a week, and we make time for a library visit every two weeks.  Daily we work on life skills like conflict resolution, cleaning bathrooms, putting away dishes, watering plants, etc.  The teaching/learning never ends, I tell you.

Here are some more pictures from around here:

A fort Molly and Mack made

Sweet Ruby…getting so grown up!

This was a funny picture to me because I can see how each girl’s personality comes through in their binders.  Molly’s are all lined up.  Ruby’s are thrown up there however they land.  They are so different.

I feel bad for Ruby.  Just last night we were talking about how this time last year she broke her arm at the park.  Well, this morning she was trying to open our dining room blinds and the top valance piece of the blinds fell off and landed on her big toe…splitting it and creating a need for seven stitches!  Poor Ruby.  I just pray that in one week it feels much, much better and she can put her foot in the dress shoes that she has to wear in Jason’s wedding!  Gracious.

Josh was so kind to come home and take Ruby to the little urgent care doctor up the road.  I tend to get very queasy and have been known to pass out at the sight of cuts and blood.  I got her situated and called Josh to come help.  AND I was sort of still in my pajamas…along with the kids.  I mean, sometimes that just happens when you homeschool.  I try to get showered and dressed before 10am, but it just didn’t happen this day.  Oh well.  Josh was our hero this morning.

Oh, and here are two other pics I found on my phone.  One is of GG watching the kids while we went and saw COURAGEOUS down in South GA on opening weekend.  It was a great movie.  And we are so thankful GG stayed with the kids for us!

The other is Molly and her cinnamon roll/doughnut thing that was HUGE!!

14 years!

Don’t have much time, but I just wanted to mark it down that today, 14 years ago, Josh and I became a couple.
The kids wondered what that meant, so I told them that it meant we only wanted to be together and didn’t want to be apart.
They also wondered how old I was. I told them I was 19 and in college and that they shouldn’t even think about being a couple with anyone until they are college-aged.

Makes sense to me. We’ll see if they take my advice.

The Journey that Never Was

This really happened this morning.

I got up at 8:00 this morning.  The sleep was heavenly.  Josh was gone an hour earlier.  I could hear the kids playing nicely down the hall.  Mack made one visit to tell me he was “hungry as a bear.”  Then, he went to play when I told him I’d be making pancakes soon.

I got up, made breakfast, the kids were very pleasant…though there was a lot of whispering at the table and making sure I didn’t hear them.  I told them that I would be reading my Bible and having some coffee and didn’t want to be interrupted.  They complied and went on their merry way upstairs.  About thirty minutes later, Ruby appeared looking a little suspicious, though not horribly so.  I asked her what she was doing, and she innocently said, “Oh, we’re just gonna go out in the backyard.”  Then, Molly and Mack came down looking even more suspicious.  I asked Ruby, again, what they were going to do with all the stuff they were taking outside.  (Molly had a backpack, a big coat, and a peppermint stick.  Mack had a pair of pajamas in hand and an umbrella and a blanket.)  Ruby said, “Well, we were just going to go on a journey and didn’t want you to know that we were leaving the house.”

You see, these munchkins were planning to go on a long walk in the neighborhood.  They told me that they were leaving by going out the gates in the backyard.  #1)They couldn’t get the front door unlocked because of the dead bolt and #2) They knew  I wouldn’t see them leave out the side gates.

These kids are sneaky, people.  They wanted to leave the house and go on a walk in the neighborhood without me.

???!!!!!!!

Molly got irate with Ruby.  “YOU HAVE TOLD HER AND NOW WE CAN’T GO ON OUR JOURNEY.  WHY DID YOU GIVE IT AWAY?????????  YOU SAID YOU WOULDN’T TELL HER.  YOU SAID YOU WOULDN’T SAY ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!”

I explained to Molly that it is always necessary to tell me where you are and that you can NEVER leave the house without me.  Not without my permission…without ME!!  I really don’t know what would possess them to think this was ok. I continued to let them know that a weird, mean man in a van might be waiting close by and when he saw how cute they were, he’s snatch them up and never bring them back home. (I can thank my mom for how quickly I went there.)

Mack sobered up some.  I asked him if he was planning to really leave the yard.  He said, “No.  I wasnt’ going to do it.”

Molly got so upset with him and in a loud tone she said, “Oh, yes you were.  You said you were going to go.  You said you would be BRAVE and go with us!  You said that!!!!!!!”

Oh my goodness.

So I told them that if they ever leave the yard without me that they would get 17,000 whippins’.  I have no idea where that number came from, but that is what I said.

About 20 minutes later (during which time I had the blinds open and could see the kids while I read), I went outside and asked how the journey went.  Ruby said, “It didn’t happen.  It wasn’t a real journey.”

So I guess unless you are deceitful, sneaky and dangerous,it’s not a real journey.

Crazy kids!

the devil wants me mean

This morning I was straightening up Mack’s room while he was getting dressed.  He was just talking about random things, and I was listening as he rambled.  He then said, “Hey Mom–you know who is happy when we are mean?”  I asked, “Who?”  He said, very soberly, “The devil.  He likes when we do bad things.  When we are mean he is so happy.”

I said, “Yeah, Mack, you’re right.  He is happy when we are mean.”

Understand that I am thinking that he is thinking of the times when he is mean to his sisters or when he does things he should not do–all those acts of disobedience.

However….his next statement made me realize that maybe he was aiming his words at a particular person.

“Yeah, Mom.  When you be mean to us, the devil says, ‘Yes!  That is what I like.  I love, love, love when the mommy is mean to the kids.’  That’s what he says…”

Then after a few seconds of silence (during which time he must have been wondering if he was being straightforward enough), he said, “Remember when I was talking and talking so very loud in your ear and you scared me when you told me to just stop?”

I stand rebuked by my four year old little monster munchkin.

Go, go, go…

“We simplify, not just to be less busy, even though we may be right to pursue that.  Rather, we simplify to remove distractions from our pursuit of Christ.

We prune activities from our lives, not only to get organized, but also that our devotion to Christ and service from His kingdom will be more fruitful.

We simplify, not merely to save time, but to eliminate hindrances to the time we devote to knowing Christ.  All the reasons we simplify should eventually lead us to Jesus Christ.”

Donald S. Whitney

I have had so many thoughts going through my mind over the last few days, and I am going to attempt to process some of them on this blog.  I am certain many of the questions I have do not have clear answers and that the answers that come will be very personal, catered to our family.

Most of the thoughts are around the high-pace, over-booked calendar culture in which we live.  I’ve heard from quite a few folks lately how they aren’t sure when life will slow down or how they are trying to figure out what to say “no” to and what to keep doing.  I hear fellow parents complain about sports schedules and games scheduled on Sunday.  I watch my own calendar fill up with church events, committee meetings, traveling weekends, weeknight outreach events, mission projects, and more.

And then there is just the LIFE stuff–cooking, laundry, homeschooling, yard work, grocery shopping, hair appointments, doctor check-ups, family time, and more.

I am trying to evaluate my calendar/life and make sure I am not doing anything just because “this is what we’re supposed to be doing” or “because so-and-so is expecting me to” or “I’ll feel horrible if I don’t help with that event” or even because I haven’t given much thought to what God prioritizes.  I can easily find myself in survival mode, just doing whatever comes next with nothing I touch being done well or with any kind of effect.

Please tell me you know what I mean.

And I also think about how our personalities play so very much into our schedules.  Some people are just GO people and function best with several things going on at once and with full weeks.  I happen to NOT be that kind of person.  I value silence.  I treasure quality, uninterrupted time with my family.  I don’t get stir-crazy very quickly.  If I have something to do more than one night during the weekdays, then I feel a bit “pulled.”  If our family doesn’t eat together at the table almost every night, then I feel disconnected….even though I do homeschool and have all the kids under one roof 90% of the time, having Josh here with us all together is different.  I treasure that time.

I feel pressure to have the kids in a sport.  I feel like they will be behind if we wait much longer to get them signed up for piano lessons.  I feel like I rush the kids and fuss at the kids more than I should.  I feel pressure to have the house pretty clean, to be “on top of” the laundry (and I don’t mean my body on top of the laundry, crying about how I can’t seem to get anything done), to have a healthy, delicious meal for my family for dinner each evening, to stay on schedule with our homeschooling material, and on and on I could go.

Now let me just be clear.  My sweet husband does NOT put one ounce of pressure on me in any of these areas.  I seriously doubt if he would notice if I never cleaned the shower again, and he surely doesn’t care if I make the bed.  He’d notice if I didn’t cook, but even then he may just see it as an opportunity to go out and get something that he’d really like to eat!

So, with all of that mumbled mess just shared, I just wonder what the Lord is wanting to teach me.  What do I do with those guilt feelings?  How can I make the best decisions for my family and for my kids?  How much do I do out of peer pressure or just out the fact that most people around us are doing it?  How would my calendar look different if I ask God to truly re-establish HIS priorities into my life?  How many meetings and committees are a part of my life that I need to just cut out completely?  Should a house wife be able to stay on top of things around the house? And if she can’t, is it a warning sign that maybe too many other outside activities are going on?  If I can’t train my kids to make their beds, brush their teeth and their hair and get dressed for the day (putting pjs away included!), should I even let them be trained in an instrument?  I mean, seriously, if they can’t get some basic steps of obedience down right here at home, why would I/should I expect that they will be able to obey and learn an instrument or have good discipline in a sport when some basic disciplines around the house are not being followed?  Am I just being unrealistic in my standards?

Am I just plain crazy?

‘Cuz sometimes I feel just that.  Crazy.

So over the next while…who knows how long…and right here upon Thanksgiving and Christmas….I hope to answer some of these questions.  I hope to embrace a more simple, more effective pace of life with my priorities reflecting God’s best for me.  He has already brought me so far in some of these areas, but I feel certain there is much more to learn.

I think this quote from Cynthia Heald says it best:

“My concern is that we live in a world where doing, communicating, and possessing so rule our lives that we have allowed even good things to overtake our time and distract from the best.  The purpose…is not show you how to downsize, declutter, or say no to everything.  The purpose is to encourage you to live life the way God has planned for you.  I think His way is one of inner peace and rest in the midst of a complex and busy world.  My definitions of a woman of simplicity is one who lives a God-paced life.  She waits for God’s leading, and she has time to be still and know her Lord.  She has a deep abiding rest in her spirit.  She is a woman of profound simplicity because she has only one focus:  being simply and purely  devoted to Christ.”

It’s Fall

We went out to run a few errands and picked up a few pumpkins…and pumpkin flavored coffee and muffin mix!  I love, love, love this time of year. After putting our pumpkins out and about inside and outside, I said, “The house looks like Fall.”

Mack said, “Oh no!  The house is making us fall?”

We went to Trader Joe’s where the kids get their own mini grocery cart.  I thought I was going to hurt one of them…they were all over the place and wanting to put everything in their buggy.  Drove me batty.

Here are some pictures:

And off the subject, someone help me with this shoe closet.  It is OUT. OF. CONTROL.

Please note the empty shelves that are intended to store shoes.  A neat little thing that I think would work if we would just try it.  Just once.  Please.

Fun weekend…no camera

We had a great time in South GA with family.  I didn’t bring my Nikon, but I managed a few poor pictures on my phone.  I’ll post them here, but I doubt you can see them very well.

We went down to be a part of Merrilee and Jason’s shower.  They are getting married the first weekend in November, and we are all excited for them.  The group of ladies that hosted the shower are all friends of Debbie’s.  They were so kind to love on Merrilee and Jason with this shower.  Everything was very nice, and they got some really nice gifts!

I loved seeing familiar faces.  It made me sad, too, though.  I got a lump in my throat when I hugged SaraBess at the entryway.  I had to make myself hold it together.  Debbie would have loved to be a part of such a special day.

We went and saw the movie COURAGEOUS, which was so incredibly good.  I highly recommend the movie!  Bring your tissues.

Sunday we went to church and then got to see Aunt Pep and Uncle Jerry.  The kids absolutely love them…they are most definitely living up to their title of GREAT Aunt Pep and GREAT Uncle Jerry.  I just hope my kids don’t wear them out with their persistence and their constant requests for walks or golf cart rides or time at the trees.  And Molly thinks that anytime an adult nearby is sitting down, then she needs to be in their lap.  That child.

We had a nice visit Monday morning, then went to eat pizza, played some games at a local Putt-Putt place, and then took a nap before dinner and a bonfire out back with S’mores!  It was a full weekend, that is for sure.  We headed back home Tuesday morning.

Here are some pictures:

Ruby loved the marshmallows and chocolate!

Great Aunt Pep and Ruby

GG and Molly-Moo

On Tuesday morning we went to a local doughnut shop.  You would not believe all the doughnuts at this place.  Molly got THE BIGGEST ONE she saw.  Ruby got a pretty big one herself, and Mack chose “dis many holes.”  He got 10 doughnut holes.

Here is a picture of Mack asking God to bless our food to nourish our bodies….which I can honestly say would have been a miracle if He chose to do that…

Now we are back at home and back at school!  I enjoyed the break without the pressure of making up any work.  We’ve done a ton of work already today, and I plan to get going again after I clean up a couple of rooms and switch over the laundry.

I will say that I am going to TRY to break out the Nikon and use it around here more often.  GG has a sweet way of letting me know she misses seeing pictures during the times she doesn’t get to be with the kids.  I promise I will try and do better!!  🙂

Happy Wednesday.